Former columnist for the Los Angeles Post Examiner, the Baltimore Post Examiner, and Gatehouse News Service

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Florida Pastor Inflames the Middle East

The pastor of a small Florida church decides to burn the Koran, and this sparks violence against foreigners in Afghanistan that leaves nine dead and 53 wounded.  Some of the dead were beaten to death, with rocks and sticks. 

The truth is, most of us do not understand Muslims.  We have never read their holy book; many of us have barely read our own, the Bible - even if we profess to be Christians.  On some days - too many days - the world is a dizzyingly complex and violent place. The Middle East knows and practices their faith - stopping to pray multiple times a day -while much of the West dips into their faith now and again, while not really knowing it at all.  Because we have no biblical knowledge with which to view and parse events, we respond with our so-called intelligence; analyzing and de-crying violence instead of turning to our God and praying for peace.

This pastor was not following his faith when he burned the Koran.  Were the Muslims following their faith when they killed innocents?  Some say yes.  If the answer is yes, then logically this is not a faith that we can understand, nor ever be aligned with.  Do we have to respect it, and live in that hazy middle ground we currently occupy when it comes to the Muslim faith, trying to respect what in truth we don't know a lot about? To answer that, we had better understand their faith, and we had better understand our own.  As a Christian, I can never be aligned with this pastor, who feels bad about the violence, but not bad about his actions.

We may never understand this region of the world, nor their centuries-old faith, which seems to have elements of destruction and suppression at it's core, if you follow the stricter tenets of being a believer.  Alternately, some who profess following Christ do not understand what it means to follow Christ at all - burning a faith's holy book is about one person's hatred, not a whole faith's beliefs.

Many say, well, when they kill Christians in the Middle East, or if they ever did burn a Bible in public, we wouldn't ever dare or dream of killing Muslims.  Thank God, I say; thank God.  This is what it means to be Christian; it is a rocky, mysterious path whose wondrous end is not seen in this lifetime.  It is time to put down the guns, rocks and sticks, and pick up the books.  It is the only thing we haven't tried.

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